As we mentioned previously with our interview with Dr. Matt Harris, the Swedish Rescue was instrumental in leading Church leaders to release the Gospel Topics essays. Hans Mattsson was a key figure in the Swedish Rescue, and we’ll talk about his involvement in the Swedish Rescue and what he thinks about the Gospel Topics essays now.
GT: So, let me ask you this question. So the [Gospel Topics] Essays started coming out, I think it was November of 2013. If those had come out 10 years earlier? Would you still be a member of the Church?
Hans: It’s hard to answer that question, but I also know that if those papers come out that early, maybe I would have left earlier.
GT: Oh, really?
Hans: Yeah, because that would tell me that they have not been honest for so many years. They have hidden things that are now published.
In the Summer of 2013, the New York Times came out with a front-page article with Hans Mattsson discussing his loss of belief. Hans will take us behind the scenes to talk about how it was set up, and how Church leaders reacted to the article.
Hans: Birgitta was employed by the Church at the store, where they sell books, because it’s the Distribution Center and she was called up by her boss and [he] wondered, what are you doing? I would call it an exciting moment. People were waiting and wondered, and they called us, and she was not supposed to come back to her work, to her job. We were also on the way to move to Spain the same year, but we were on our way to leave anyway.
GT: So she basically got fired because of that interview, would you say?
Hans: Yes. But that said, you can have what they call a green leave, garden leave, sorry. So they paid her anyway during the time before we left, so they handled it very nicely, actually. But they didn’t want us to be in contact with any members. Birgitta and I were called to the Stake president for interviews, twice, and the second time I took Birgitta with me and they were going to excommunicate me. They said, “We’ll let you know.” After two weeks, I had a phone call, and they said, “We won’t do anything.”
GT: They wanted to excommunicate both you and her? Or…
Hans: Yes, but they said, “We won’t do anything”. That happened twice, really.
Find out why Hans believes the Church chose not to act. Check out our conversation….
High profile church leaders flew to Sweden in 2010 to try to answer difficult church history questions to Swedish Latter-day Saints. How did the meeting go? Hans Mattsson gives his impressions of the meeting.
Hans: First of all, it was a secret meeting. No one should know about it.
GT: Oh, it wasn’t public.
Hans: No. We had the New Area Authority Seventy Ingvar Olsson and he was inviting those that the bishops would [recommend] to have at the meeting, to straighten us out. I called him because I know him quite well. I said, “Hey, listen. I can help you. Because I knew all the people that you should have there.” He said, “No, I’ll go through the bishops and stake president.” We were there in the evening, a Sunday evening after everything was closed in the church. We were about 20 struggling, seeking-truth people. At the same time, they had also called bishops and stake presidents and some high councilmen and PR people from the Church. We were about 40-45 people, and also the Area President, Elder Kopischke came up from Germany. So there was quite strong leadership there. Elder Jensen went out and welcomed him and helped him. I said, “I’m glad to see you again. I hope you can give us some good answers.” They said, “Oh, I’m glad you’re here, Elder Mattsson. I’m glad, and you can help me.” I said, “Well, I only wanted to know the truth.” So, we started there. So anyway, we were into the meeting and Elder Jensen says, after we introduce ourselves, and told why we were there and who we are, Elder Jensen started the meeting by [drawing] on the whiteboard, making a line from top to bottom, divided in two sides. [On one side] was Jesus, God, and the Church. Another [side] was Satan and the world. He gave a lot of scriptures that proved that if you’re not in the Church, you’re in the world and in the hands of Lucifer. So, it was a very, very tough way to start with them. We felt like we were not here to discuss if we are Satan’s people, or if we are God’s people. We just wanted to know the truth. But it was very black and white then. After that, Elder Turley went up and we were asked what kind of questions we had, and they wrote it down, I think about 12 questions down. [The questions were about] the hat and stone, polygamy, polyandry. Do we believe in polygamy still? I can’t remember all the questions, but today [these questions] are very common. So, we really tried to ask questions, or discuss them, with them.
Find out what else went on during the meeting, and how it ended. Check out our conversation….